The Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed a N34 billion fraud charge filed by the Federal Government against Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd, a company linked to a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
Justice Ibrahim Buba also dismissed the same charge against a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpolokemi, Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Warredi Enisuoh, all co-defendants.
Other defendants, who benefitted from the judgment, were three firms: Odimiri Electrical Ltd; Boloboere Property and Estate Ltd; and Destre Consult Ltd.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed the 40-count charge against the defendants in 2015.
Tompolo was initially joined as the first defendant in the case but following his failure to answer repeated court summonses, EFCC counsel Festus Keyamo (SAN), applied that Tompolo’s name be removed from the charge sheet.
During the trial, the other defendants then filed a no-case submission, asking the court to dismiss the charge for lacking in merit.
Justice Buba held that the prosecution “failed to establish a prima facie case” against the defendants and dismissed the 40-count charge.
The EFCC had accused the defendants of conspiring among themselves to divert various sums running into over N34 billion, belonging to NIMASA to their personal use.
The first count of the amended 40 counts reads: “That you, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), Patrick Akpobolokemi and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited in 2012, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N601, 516.13 and $1,766,428.62, property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, knowing that the said sums were proceeds of stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty.